The Philadelphia Eagles replaced Carson Wentz at quarterback in the third quarter of Sunday’s loss to the Packers, going with rookie backup Jalen Hurts. And just days removed from the Green Bay game, head coach Doug Pederson has made the decision to stick Wentz on the bench for Week 14.
“I have come to a decision, and I am going to go with Jalen Hurts this week against New Orleans," Pederson said in a statement from the team. "I looked at the whole thing and decided that for this week to look for that spark again to try to get the team over the hump.”
Pederson commented that he is simply looking for development from his second-round pick and for the change to provide a lift to an offense that has struggled all season. Once an MVP candidate in 2017, Wentz has been prone to injury and experienced regression, perhaps connected. 2020 has been, by far, his worst season as a pro, entering the game first in interceptions (15) and sacks (46), 31st in completion percentage (58.1%), and 30th in yards per attempt (6.02).
"Carson is like all of us right now, he's disappointed. He's frustrated," Pederson said to the team’s website. "He's been a professional through it all. He supports his teammates, and that's what you want to see from him, the leader of the team. I know sometimes the quarterback gets a lot of the blame like the head coach does. It's the good with the bad. It's not about Carson Wentz. It's not about one person. We know we have issues on offense, and it has been a struggle for us all season. That's where the frustration lies a little bit, but he's been a pro and would expect nothing less."
Wentz on the Bench
Sunday marked the first time Wentz has been benched for non-injury related reasons and will become the most expensive backup quarterback in the NFL. The North Dakota State product signed a four-year contract extension prior to last season worth $128 million, $109.9 million of it guaranteed, which is the fourth most in the league.
Moving on from the former top-2 pick has been a hot-button topic all season, but it’s much more difficult than that. If he is not on the roster for the 2021 season, it will cost the Eagles $59.2 million against their salary cap. And if he’s not on the 2022 roster, it will still cost $24.5 million against the cap. A trade this offseason, should another team engage Philly, would still result in dead money, so the likelihood of Wentz playing for a different team next season appears low at this time.
Hurts so good?
The Hurts pick was scrutinized at the time it was made, and that scrutiny hasn’t subsided as the season has gone along. The team had significant holes throughout the roster, and second-round picks are traditionally used to select starters. But after throwing his first NFL touchdown - at Lambeau Field no less - Hurts is just that, a starter, for this week anyway.
"Any experience and any opportunity to touch the field, it only kind of raises the value of that player. It's kind of has been that way all year, and today Coach gave me that opportunity," Hurts said Sunday. "With all my heart, I had every intention of coming in and getting it done and winning the game, but we came up short, and that only lights a fire in everybody moving forward."